Mallorca like other major islands of the Mediterranean, has attracted a cornucopia of conquerors, invaders, settlers and tourists, who have all contributed to its richness and vital history.
Because of the location of the archipelago, the Balearic islands found themselves on the great trading routes that crossed the Mediterranean Sea. Eivissa (Ibiza) became an important commercial center for first the Phoenicians, then the Carthaginian traders. While Mallorca played only a minor part in these 8th- and 7th-century cultures, there are references in classical texts to Mallorca n honderos (stone slingers) fighting for the Carthaginians in the Punic wars.
When the winners, the Romans, finally tired of the piracy that was rife in the Baleares, they organized an expedition to conquer and settle Mallorca. In 123BC Quinto Cecilio Metelo conquered the island, and for five and a half centuries Mallorca was subject to the vicissitudes of Roman history. Historians believe that at the time there were two major centers. Pollentia (beside Alcudia) and Palma. After a few centuries more of `ups and downs` under the successive domination of the Vandals and the Byzantines, the Muslims began 200 years of attacks on the island at the beginning of the 8th century. In 902 the entire archipelago was annexed to the Emirate of Cordoba.
While Roman culture probably had the greatest impact on Mallorcan social patterns, the influence of the Moors was responsible for important advances in the island`s agriculture, along with development of the island`s crafts and commerce. It is also easy to pinpoint the Moorish contribution to the island`s folklore, language and cuisine
It was the Mallorcan Moors` plundering of Catalan boats that finally provoked King Jaume I to plan the overthrow of the island. At the end of the year I229, 15,000 men with,500 horses aboard 155 ships set sail from Salou, in Tarragona. Bloody details aside, Jaume I, the Conqueror, annexed the island to his Kingdom of Aragon. The monarch then subdivided this newly enlarged kingdom between his two sons - the younger, Jaume, got Mallorca.
Jaume II`s domination of Mallorca lasted only a brief period. As an independent Kingdom, from 1276 to 1344, the island lived through what the historians call a `Golden Age`. Jaume`s reign saw a flowering of the island`s agriculture; industry and navigation A number of new villages were founded, coins were minted, Bellver Castle was built. ln addition, the Almudaina was transformed into a splendid Gothic palace and the building of the Convent of Sant Francese was begun. It was also the time of the Mallorcan philosopher and scientist Ramon Llull.
But the Catalans were not happy about Mallorca`s independent successes. In 1344 they resorted to brute force, reincorporating the islands definitively into the Kingdom of Aragon. At the end of the 15th century, the Baleares were united with the Kingdom of Spain as part of the political union of Castile and Aragon.